I had the most horrific experience in the barber shop today. No Sweetheart, it had nothing to do with my hair. I even left it a bit longer for you this time. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

I like this particular barber shop because it is a barber shop – not a hair salon. They have a hot shaving cream dispenser and shave your neck with a straight razor. And there’s even a sign on the wall indicating that they will shave your back for you. Now that’s full service. It’s nestled between a gas station and a machine shop. You can practically smell the testosterone.

It reminds me a bit of the shop my dad took me to as a kid. Well… almost. It lacks a small and impossibly old man with a German accent who had a disconcerting skill with a razor strap. But that’s another story.

I usually stop at this manly barber shop on my way to work. It’s early and quiet, and there’s no one there but maybe one or two other guys who also learned to read from watching Batman. We grunt at each other, make disparaging remarks about the weather, and scratch at will.

But today, I stopped in after work, which was apparently also after school. I was the oldest guy in the shop by 15 years. But the line wasn’t as long as the crowd would indicate. There was a kid apprenticing in the shop, and several of his friends had come to just hang at the shop. Well that’s an old and noble Mayberry tradition. Howard would feel right at home. And at first I thought it would be interesting to listen in on what high school guys bantered about these days. This is where the horrifying part comes in.

First, there was a discussion of who’s house they were going to watch “The O.C.” at. I’ve never seen the show, but it’s basically a nighttime soap. It is on Fox, so I can only assume (hope?) that it’s laden with half naked women and sexual innuendo. But none of the discussion centered on “hot chicks”, so they might not have noticed anyway.

Then they went on about the best value in tanning salons and how to get a good base before spring. I was briefly encouraged by the topic of cell phones and who’s was the coolest. But then they started talking about the virtues of hair gels, mousse, and whether or not one of the “guys” should cut his hair.

What the hell? Who were these girls? And were they representative of teenage boys in general? I suddenly fear for my own boys. Hell, I fear for the girls. I fear for the military (“Does this body armor make my butt look fat?”). Or maybe I just need to go back to a hair salon, or at least to mornings.

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